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6 posts from October 5, 2012

October 05, 2012

David Rivera ducks FBI-probe questions, eludes reporters by slipping out back door

Under federal investigation, Congressman David Rivera held a rare press conference Friday but he refused to discuss the FBI probe on every reporter's mind.

Rivera claimed that, since he was holding a congressional event, he couldn't talk about what he called an election issue: The allegation from two campaign vendors who say he participated in a scheme to secretly aide another candidate to undermine a rival.

“It’s very simple, as I said before, we are in an official, federal government office. Any communications that get done in this office have to be related to official government business,” Rivera told CBS4, according to its video and online story. “I think that’s the appropriate way to do this.”

NBC6 also tried to get answers from Rivera, who's being abandoned by his fellow Republicans. Rivera refused to comment. Nothing new there. Rivera will only comment on the case to select Spanish-language TV and radio reporters who have given him a pass and allowed him to misrepresent the case and the reports about it.

Reporters staked out his building, but Rivera slipped out a back entrance, they suspect.


Just before Fast & Furious, Florida had Operation Castaway

A sensational election-season report into the botched Operation Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation has cast new light on a simultaneous Florida firearms investigation linked to violence in Colombia, Honduras and Puerto Rico.

Called Operation Castaway, the Florida case has received far less attention than Fast and Furious. The latter became an embarrassing distraction for Obama’s administration when it was implicated in the death of a federal agent and Mexico massacres, according to federal documents and a new cross-border investigative report by the Spanish-language network Univision.

Two Justice Department officials resigned and a dozen more face possible disciplinary action after the September release of a scathing 512-page Inspector General’s report that detailed the “seriously flawed” Fast and Furious case in which Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents allowed AK 47-style firearms and other weapons to cross the border into Mexico.

The report never mentions the lesser-known Operation Castaway, and federal agents have pointed out numerous substantive differences with Fast and Furious.


But the Florida man imprisoned in Operation Castaway, Hugh Crumpler III, claims in court papers and in the Univision reports that the cases are alike because agents allowed guns to get into the hands of bad guys from Miami to Tampa to Jacksonville.

“There was no difference between Operation Fast and Furious and Operation Castaway,” Crumpler wrote last week in a federal court filing that seeks an early release from his 30-month prison sentence.

Federal agents in Operation Castaway said they intercepted nearly all the weapons he sold and tried to keep them in the country while Crumpler was under investigation. Crumpler’s customers were linked to gangs or cartels from Puerto Rico to Honduras, which is now one of the world’s most violent countries.

By contrast, Fast and Furious was designed to allow guns — about 2,000 — to go out of the country. Crumpler admitted he dealt about 1,000 firearms, including the notorious Fabrique Nationale Herstal semi-automatic handguns nicknamed cop-killing “ matapolicias” by cartel thugs who prize their armor-piercing capabilities.

“At no point during Operation Castaway did U.S. law enforcement officials allow illegally purchased firearms to be shipped to Honduras,” William Daniels, a spokesman for the Middle District of Florida’s U.S. attorney’s office said in a written statement.

“Specific knowledge about weapons exported by this criminal group to Honduras was developed over the course of the investigation, after the weapons had already been shipped,” he said. “U.S. authorities had no prior knowledge of these shipments.”

More here

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/05/v-fullstory/3036670/before-fast-furious-florida-had.html#storylink=cpyMore here

Florida Democratic Party, two liberal groups accused in mysterious complaints of voter-registration fraud

The Florida Democratic Party and two liberal groups have been accused of voter-registration fraud, according to the Florida Department of state, which is not releasing the complaints to the public.

The department has forwarded the complaints against the Democrats, the Florida New Majority Education Fund and La Raza/Democracia USA to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

FDLE is already investigating he Strategic Allied Consulting firm hired by the Republican Party to conduct voter-registration activities in Florida and other states. About 10 county elections supervisors have voiced concerns about the registrations collected by Strategic Allied Consulting, which has since been fired.

Neither agency would comment on the extent of the new allegations or how many voter registration forms it involves.

One of the new complaints was filed in Republican-heavy Lee County, Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington confirmed to the Associated Press. She refused to answer any other questions.

Three La Raza-linked registration cards were flagged as suspect last month by Miami-Dade's election department. La Raza said in a statement that at least two of those three forms (all involving the same family members) appear to have been processed.

Miami-Dade's elections office also found five suspect Republican-paid registrations.

The Democratic Party, which has recently been gloating about the misfortunes of the Republican Party, found the timing of the recent complaint suspicious.

“We have no information to suggest that any of our volunteers registered a person known to be ineligible," spokeswoman Brannon Jordan said. "Our volunteers go through a rigorous and extensive training process to ensure they comply with all laws when registering voters. We will continue to take every step to abide by every applicable rule and regulation."

Update: The New Majority Fund responds: "To date Florida New Majority Education Fund has not been contacted by any state official regarding our voter registration program. We stand ready to assist with any inquiries, should they come. Florida New Majority Education Fund has rigorous quality control processes in place to ensure our registrations are fully compliant with all applicable laws. We have registered nearly 10,000 new Florida voters. We will continue to push forward with our efforts through the October 9 voter registration deadline."

La Raza responds: "At this time, NCLR has not been notified of this allegation by the Florida Department of State or any other state agency involved in this process.  NCLR is both deeply concerned and frustrated that the Department of State saw fit to send this email message after their offices were closed for the day, and on the eve of a holiday weekend, thereby depriving NCLR of the opportunity to request additional information, determine the specific issue, and get to the bottom of the situation."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Incoming House Speaker tells Citizens to halt $350M loan to private insurers

The plan to loan out $350 million from the surplus account of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. hit a major roadblock Friday, when the incoming speaker of the Florida House asked the state-run insurer to halt the program and submit it for legislative review.

Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, wrote a letter to Citizens Board Chairman, Carlos Lacasa, asking him delay moving forward on the so-called “surplus note” loan, which was lobbied for by insurance companies and hastily approved last month with little public input.

“I am concerned that Board’s aggressive timeline will result in the program’s implementation before the two chambers of the Legislature complete hearings on this important matter of state policy,” Weatherford wrote in the letter.

Citizens’ board unveiled the plan last month and quickly voted to support it, despite backlash from some Republican lawmakers and concerns from the state’s insurance consumer advocate and the Office of Insurance Regulation.

Even members of the board voiced concerns about the legality of the $350 million loan and asked that independent lawyers take a closer look at the legal ramifications of approving the plan without permission from the state Legislature.

The plan would take $350 million from Citizens’ record $6.2 billion reserves and lend it — under favorable and forgivable terms — to private insurers who agree to take over policies and keep them for 10 years. It is slated to begin in a matter of weeks.

Continue reading "Incoming House Speaker tells Citizens to halt $350M loan to private insurers" »

Butterworth skirts state lobbying laws with Broward contract

Former Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth lobbied heavily this year to persuade his former agency to award his nonprofit company — and its for-profit partner — a $44 million-a-year state management contract.

Butterworth, however, is not registered in Tallahassee to lobby state officials.

The Broward Behavioral Health Coalition, Butterworth’s group, won the competition in March to become Broward’s new “managing entity for substance abuse and mental health services.”

Now, after months of delays caused by an unsuccessful bid protest, Butterworth is negotiating final contract terms with DCF. A signed deal is expected by Nov. 1.

As president of Broward Behavioral, Butterworth led the company’s campaign to secure the lucrative, multi-year contract. Its bid was chosen over one made by Partnership for Community Health, a group of established Broward healthcare providers. More from Dan Christensen here.

After scoring FLOTUS interview, urban radio station pranks voter, pretends to be crude and rude Romney volunteer

Just before airing an interview with Michelle Obama this morning, the urban radio station Power 96 this morning played its regular Prank Calls with Carmen feature. This one, though, just happened to be political and just so happened to bash Mitt Romney.

The script:

Carmen: This is Carmen from the Mitt Romney campaign and I was calling…

Man: Uh, I’m an independent voter…

Carmen: An independent businessman means you’re unemployed. So do you have a job

Man: Who are you?

Carmen: How much money do you have in the bank?

Man: How much money do – say that again?

Carmen: Do you have all your teeth?

Man: I’m not getting…

Carmen: So you don’t have all your teeth

Man: Yes I have all my teeth!

Continue reading "After scoring FLOTUS interview, urban radio station pranks voter, pretends to be crude and rude Romney volunteer" »